Friday Night's NBA Action

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PHOENIX — A week ago the Phoenix Suns were embarrassed by Denver in an ugly game that capped a putrid preseason that had to make even the most optimistic Suns fan question whether the team...

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All in all, about as good as could be expected. In fact, I was pretty darn impressed. Offensively, the Suns were extremely effective and defensively, well the Lakers are pretty darn good. No complaints here.

Here's the first recap from over at SBNAZ:

Phoenix Suns Put Up Good Fight But Drop Home Opener To Los Angles Lakers, 114-106 - SB Nation Arizona
The Phoenix Sun had a tough task playing the Los Angeles Lakers for their home opener and the result was as expected. But the home town boys gave the fans a solid game through a combination of gritty effort and skilled play. The Suns had no answer for Pau Gasol (not many teams do) and couldn't keep Lamar Odom off the glass but offensively Phoenix continues to make quick progress. There are no moral victories in sports but if there were, this would be one.

More recap fun (now, with quotes):

Both Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers Encouraged By Early Season Game - SB Nation Arizona
Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said he was "proud" of his team despite losing their home opener 114-106 to the Los Angeles Lakers. Lakers head coach (and Zen master) Phil Jackson wasn't thrilled that his team took 27 three point shots but overall was "pleased with the way the team performed."

And check out these cocky bastards. I guess we shouldn't expect anything more from Laker fans. As the lady once sang, true colors shining through.

Lakers 114, Suns 106: Gasol, Odom Pound Squishy Phoenix D - Silver Screen and Roll
The Phoenix Suns have clearly faded since enjoying their 15 minutes of semi-glory back in May 2010, and frankly they were a pretty soft target even then. Amare Stoudemire at least gave them a puncher's chance of keeping up with the Lakers for a quarter here and there. Now that he's fled the conference out of an acute case of Pau-phobia, the Suns are little more than another of the Lake Show's intradivisional speedbags.

 

Game notes after the jump. Post game quotes, etc to follow. 

Game notes

1st Qtr

  • Odom going at Hedo. That's there all game and there's nothing Turk can do about it.
  • Suns doing a better job finding Robin and  taking advantage of Fisher trying to guard Hill (Kobe on Nash).
  • Oh hi, Joey Crawford. This should be fun.
  • Suns retreating on defense as soon as the shot goes up. Only Robin stays to try and get an OReb.
  • Spacing on those Robin/Nash pick and rolls looks wrong. Lakers shouldn't be able to double team Nash and still cover Robin without bringing and extra defender...and yet they are doing just that.
  • Lakers looks a little sloppy early...but lead 15-14
  • Robin leads Suns with 6 points. Doing a much better job finding him in different ways. This offense is improving fast.
  • Solid defense by JRich on that Kobe post up. Just hold your ground and don't bite on the fakes.
  • Suns beaten down the floor a few times for early/easy Lakers baskets.
  • Wireless internet down up in here. Reverting to old school note taking with MS Word.
  • Dragic in a little earlier today. 2:10 to go. Kobe gives him a welcome to the game jump shot in the face
  • Jared Dudley can't jump over a phone book but grabs two boards immediately after coming in the game. Some guys just find the ball.
  • Hey look, Steve Blake hit a three against the Suns. Ho hum.
  • Not a bad first quarter. Suns at least scored the ball. 28-27 Lakers. Nash was doing a lot of the work creating offense for everyone.

2nd Qtr

  • I like the Bongo-cam about 300 times more than the Kiss Cam.
  • That was 20 seconds of Goran dribbling around screens and then finally shooting over Blake. It worked but not exactly what you are looking for.
  • Next trip down, Goran tried a lob to Hakim that was just off target.
  • You can hate him, but Pau Gasol is a total stud on the basketball court. He's the new Tim Duncan. Yup, I went there.
  • Double team Pau, kick to Barnes, easy drive against the rotating Suns defense. Plain. Old. Basketball.
  • Goran is kicking ass here. He's playing at a crazy-high level. 7 points already.
  • Nash who? Yup, I went there also. Are you coming with me? Well, punk, are you?
  • Ratliff in for Gasol. His first break.
  • Odom boarding circles around Robin.
  • Dragic is playing in Hero Mode tonight. How do you only play this kid 15 minutes? Gonna have to find more time for him somewhere this season...not sure where is the problem.
  • And Gentry pulls Goran  and puts some guy named "Nush" back in with 4:35 to go.
  • Well, Hedo, I am not sure why you thought you could throw down the dunk but it was an aggressive move so that's a plus.
  • Suns doing a better job taking advantage of Hedo's ability to pass out of the top of the arc by putting guys (Hill and JRich) in motion so they can use a screen and catch on the move near the lane.
  • Nice little run there to cut it back to a one point game....but Kobe says nope and drains a three. He's Kobe.
  • A lot of times Robin ends up having to cover his man and the other big when Suns defenders get out all out of position with their perimeter switching and trapping.
  • Lakers, 57-50. Defense.?.

3rd Qtr

  • Warrick: 0 points, 1 rebound. That's Hakim. Mr. Inconsistent.
  • Lakers shot 49% with Pau doing damage (7-9) while Kobe doing volume (5-12). Lakers only 2 FTA's so that's good but +5 OReb and +9 TReb, that's bad.
  • Grant Hill having a nice little game as well leading the Suns with 14 points in the first half.
  • Suns getting multiple opportunities on leak outs with Hedo playing the role Peyton Manning and Grant and Jason going long. Too bad the Suns haven't been able to slow the Lakers in the slightest.
  • Much better spacing on that Nash/Robin two man game = Robin dunkage.
  • Suns tie at 70 on a Jason post-up over Fisher. Would love to see more of that but really that's up to Fisher. If he's on Nash, the Suns work him in the pick and roll. If they try and hide him on JRich or Grant they post him up. Basically, Fisher's defense is a liability. Ever hear that before? Has it ever really mattered?
  • Grant does everything right, Kobe scores over him anyway. Where have we seen that before?
  • A couple of nice aggressive finishes for Hedo. When he gets going in a few months, the Suns offense is going to be fantastic. They are putting up good numbers against the Lakers without him.
  • Nash goes out and we see a Hedo/Frye pick and roll.
  • Oops. Goran misfires a lob attempt to Hakim that leads to a Shannon Brown uncontested breakaway dunk. Let Shannon Dunk!!! Just not in the dunk contest.
  • 87-79 Lakers

4th Qtr

  • Lamar is eating the rebounds. 15 so far.
  • Lakers pulling away with some big three's. It was kind of inevitable.
  • Is it me, or is Shannon Brown a better basketball player this year?
  • Warrick dunk vs. Shannon Brown block. Above the rim is still sexy.
  • Great hustle and energy from this Suns second unit with Gasol and Kobe and Odom on the bench. Fans loving it. Lakers still up 97-91.
  • Lakers big three back in. Gasol to Kobe cutting through the lane for two.  Good rest for Nash though who's about to check in along with Jason and Grant at about the 5:50 mark. 99-91 Lakers.
  • A surprising number of thrown T-shirts land near me in the media section. Got to keep your head up although not nearly as dangerous as foul balls flying in the window of the press box at Chase Field.
  • Joey Crawford had to get in his T...Matt Barnes is the winner.
  • Lakers close the game strong. That's how they do.


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Pregame coaches notes:

  • Gentry said the Suns "might" use the zone against the Lakers. He said it wasn't some genius plan in the playoff, it was done out of desperation because they couldn't guard Gasol.
  • Gentry was happy with the pace and overall how the Suns played in Utah (easy to say after a win).
  • He was really happy with the team's defense which he credits with the win. As a sign of the team's emphasis on defense this season, the white board in the locker room now has defensive game notes on top of offensive. That's new.
  • Gentry said it's hard to trap Pau because the triangle creates such good spacing and since he's the most skilled big man in the league now, Gasol will make the right play 99% of the time. He said they would "pick their spots" to double him.
  • Asked about Robin's struggles, Gentry just said it's early in the season and again said how much the Suns need him to play well this year.
  • Gentry says the Lakers are still the team to beat and thinks they are loving all the attention Miami is getting. They like being the underdogs despite winning the last two titles and three straight trips to the finals.
  • Goran said his knee was actually feeling better. He looked fine in pregame warmups to me. He also seemed to be in a great mood and stopped to sign autographs for quite some time. 
Img_20101029_182424_medium

At this point last year, fans treated Goran like a ball kid. Now, he's a rock star.

Question: Who are the Lakers gonna to play at the 4/5 when Gasol and Odom are on the bench? I suppose Derrick Character is going to get minutes and Theo Ratliff (who is listed has having a "sore left knee" will come in. Do those guys scare you? 

So, while I don't think the Suns can win this game (thanks NBA schedule) the opportunity is there if you can get one of those guys into foul trouble and/or run them enough to wear them out by the 4th qtr. 

What she said...

Yeah yeah yeah, it's about that time. By which I mean: time for Kobe Bryant to show once again that he's the fastest gun in the West. You can usually count on the Suns' D to cooperate.






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